Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Ben Zlotnick founded Eden, an on-demand snowplowing, lawn mowing and landscaping app and website

Company HQ: King and Spadina
Founded: 2016
Employees: 7
Contractors: 250 in the GTA, plus hundreds in Ottawa and five U.S. cities

How it works: “First, you enter your name and address on the Eden site or app. You can then order grass cutting, snow­plowing and other landscaping services by clicking a button. One of our partner contractors accepts the job, shows up and takes before and after photos of their work, which they send to you before you pay. The money goes from your credit card to the contractor, and we take a 10 to 25 per cent cut.”

Eureka moment: “When I finished university 15 years ago, I started a landscaping and snowplowing company. Now we’re in an Uber world: if it’s not there in 30 seconds, you’re like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I wanted to bring that speed and efficiency to contracting work.”

How much you spent initially: “Over half a million dollars.”

Your turning point: “We held focus groups with contractors across North America. From that, we built EdenPRO, a North America–wide one-stop shop where contractors can get financing, customers, insurance, and more. That will be a big part of reaching our goal: making Eden the largest platform for the trades industry around the world.”

Your big-time backers: “To date, we haven’t raised any capital because, thankfully, I’ve been able to finance it. It’s a successful business already—if it snows tomorrow, we can do thousands of jobs in a single day. We wanted to make sure the back end of our business was robust before we go out and raise funds to scale.”

Tech jargon you hate: “Pivot.”

Tech jargon you use too much: “I know all of them, and I try to stay away.”

Your past life: “I ran a tech accelerator called INcubes. Eden is ultimately merging my two worlds—landscaping and tech—together.”

Your go-to office outfit: “I can’t have a standard outfit. Every once in a while, I have to jump into the garden or a snowplow.”

Your tech role model: “John Tory. He’s not currently in the business world, but he’s pushing the business and tech envelope. We led a Toronto tech ­delegation to Israel together.”

App you can’t live without: “Stripe, a payment processing app. But when I get home, my kids steal my phone, so they’d probably have a better answer.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “ ‘Ask for everyone’s advice.’ Instead, you should stick to your gut and trust your instincts.”